The IDF Military Advocate-General will transfer the findings from the various IDF inquiries into Operation Cast Lead to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz for a final decision on whether to press charges against soldiers, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The decision was made in the wake of the numerous reports published by international NGOs that culminated in the publication of the UN's Goldstone fact-finding mission last month, which accused Israel of committing war crimes.
The decision taken by Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit was aimed at deflecting international criticism against the IDF that it was not objective and could not properly probe itself, military sources said Thursday.
"Operational debriefing... is not an appropriate tool to conduct investigations of allegations of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law," the Goldstone Report claimed. "The operational debriefings as well as the five 'expert' investigations... appear to have relied exclusively on interviews with Israeli officers and soldiers. As such, these investigations did not comply with required legal standards."
In April, four months after the offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip ended, the IDF released the results of five internal inquiries that it had conducted: The use of white phosphorus; claims that the IDF targeted UN facilities and vehicles; claims that the IDF targeted Palestinian medical personnel; the extent of the damage caused to Gaza infrastructure by ground forces; and allegations that soldiers intentionally attacked innocent Palestinians.
In addition to these probes, the IDF is currently reviewing 114 complaints that it has received regarding IDF activity during the campaign - some of them from NGO reports - and Military Police have opened 24 criminal investigations.
Out of the 24 investigations, nine are probes into allegations that IDF soldiers deliberately opened fire at Palestinian civilians, including some carrying white flags. The other investigations have been launched into allegations of looting as well as the beating of detained Palestinians.
Once these probes are completed, their findings and Mandelblit's subsequent decision of whether to press charges will also be presented to Mazuz for final approval.
In principle, the IDF opposed the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry. The Goldstone Report and its mandate were "imbalanced and biased," the sources said.